Judicial Redistricting Heats Up

While seats in the state Legislature and the U.S. Congress are redrawn to account for population shifts each census, the judicial districts in the state have not changed since 1984. There is a behind-the-scenes struggle going on over whether they will be redrawn before the election next year.

The judges and district attorney primary elections will be in May, and the general in August of 2014. The judges argue there isn't enough time before the election to get set to run in new districts. There is some suspicion that the redrawing of the districts right now may be for the purpose of defeating a particular judge.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey wants them redrawn, saying some rural counties have become suburbs and population shifts have caseloads "out of whack." The judges and district attorneys would like to have the new districts take effect after the next election. Given that the terms are for eight years, many of them would be retired by the time new districts take effect.

Knox County is its own district and a stable population and isn't likely to be changed. But some districts have multiple counties—Sevier, Cocke, Jefferson, and Grainger counties are in one district, for instance.